Her Space Holiday – XOXO, Panda and the New Kid Revival (Mush)
There’s not an awful lot to be said about Marc Bianchi‘s transformation from computer-wielder to guitar-slinger, because the record itself should be able to dictate whether or not this ballsy (apparently it’s ballsy, I’m not all that familiar with him) move was the right thing to do or not. Immediately, the tenets of an updated twee aesthetic crop up – tales told very firmly and sincerely from the foot of the bed, with cacky-sounding electric burbles every now and again. Because the aesthetic at no point graduates to anything more deserving of discussion than simply that, we are left to assume that the lyrical meat is worth the relative musical disinterest.
It’s a good thing, then, that Bianchi is in possession of a rare knack for making each of his throwaway intimations memorable – two kids in the back of class, making the telephone ring, biscuits and tea… these are things, all, designed at inciting the most personal reactions possible. They succeed for the most part, despite the odd clang. There’s a loose bookending structure to the album that is by no means very clever and, truth be told, slightly voided by the album’s sheer length. Fourteen songs is too long a gap to reintroduce an already-heard theme or motif, as we do on both the opening The New Kid Revival and the closing One For My Soul (Good Night). The bookending sentiment of youthful abandonment, of playing music at disgustingly loud levels just because you can, is a charming one, but one too thinly utilised across the whole record.
The undoubted highlight comes on the dreamy, almost sickly sweet My Crooked Crown. Taking the form of a love-letter (“signed XOXO Panda”, naturally), the well-worn thoughts are refreshed by funny turns of phrase and the simplest melody imaginable. For once, Bianchi’s hyper-personal intimations square right up to your face and engage, and it’s wonderful. The other striking tune comes in Two Tin Cans And A Length Of String, the abrasive nature of which, coupled with scattergun vocal delivery, is also very appealing. That it settles down into a pretty bounce so quickly after honking quite so defiantly is a mite disappointing, but the quality of that pretty bounce is high enough whereby you won’t mind. A convincing template for many of the songs here could be that that threaten to bite quite consistently, but usually lose confidence and settle for a little lick on the heel. Which is fine, but Bianchi would do well to bludgeon his audience as much as he dares – it could result in a more daring and rewarding release.
XOXO, Panda and the New Kid Revival is out now, more info here.